The story of NK Suparna, a senior citizen, is not a rare one. He has undergone bad experiences at different hospitals and laboratories in Bangalore.
From being overcharged for unnecessary tests to being given the wrong reports, this diabetic patient has faced his quota of difficulties.
“I had to go to Pristine Hospital (Basaveshwaranagar) a while ago for a minor wound. After charging me for an identity card that I’d never use again, they made me buy gloves, syringe and ointment which the OPD doctor used and charged me Rs 500 again! I took the matter to the Karnataka Medical Council, who offered to compensate me but I declined,” recalls Suparna.
Madhu, a professional, who had her blood tested done at a clinic in Sadashivanagar, recalls, “I had to give blood for a series of tests. The technician not only left a
purple mark on me after the test but called me the next day to say that the blood wasn’t enough. I fasted for 12 hours again and gave it. They didn’t charge me again but it was very unprofessional.”
Most doctors admit that ‘these things happen’. “Most doctors working for private hospitals have to accrue a certain quota of income monthly. Since the patient visits aren’t enough to fill that, it has to be done by investigations. Doctors often prescribe extra tests or don’t discharge the patient even when they can,” reveals a general physician speaking anonymously.
Suparna adds that at Dr Arvind Diabetic Centre (Basaveshwaranagar), his lipid profile test report was drastically wrong, which was probably the fault of unqualified trainees.
“A similar incident happened at Navarang Diagnostic Centre, where my blood sugar level was shown as 140 but an hour later, a test at Fortis Hospitals showed it at 100.”
Suparna points out that many labs don’t have any pathologist and one person comes and merely signs all the reports.
About Suparna’s case, a medical officer at Dr Arvind Diabetic Centre says, “This doesn’t happen often and we’ve apologised to him.
Sometimes, due to medication, the cholesterol and triglycerides can come down. We don’t know the reason for the wrong reading but if he had clarified with one of ourdoctors, we would have sent the sample to another certified laboratory.”
A doctor at Navarang Diagnostic Centre adds, “It isn’t abnormal for the blood sugar levels to go down within an hour. It could be because of the age, medication the patient took, the speed of digestion, the intake and several other factors. The result may also vary from lab to lab and technician to technician because the procedures can be different.”
There is commercialisation in all walks of life, including healthcare, admits Dr
Sudarshan Ballal, medical director and chairman, Medical Advisory Board,
Manipal Health Enterprises.
“But it’s our job as doctors to safeguard people against it. Doctors have a far greater responsibility in being ethical as people have faith in them and usually come in when they are in distress,” he informs.